25 May, 2013

Physical decline and the forties

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about being “of a certain age”, meaning that being in my forties, I now find that there are certain elements of culture that are only meaningful to my generation, and not to the generation behind mine. We are no longer the youngest adults on the block.

But this doesn’t only apply to things cultural. It also applies to things physical, unfortunately.
I’m pretty fit and healthy on the whole. I eat wholesome food, exercise several times a week, don’t smoke, drink little, etc., etc... And yet, when I turned forty a few years back, I found that things began to go downhill. My eyesight took a turn for the worse—suddenly I found that I needed specs to read the smaller print on things like menus, recipes and maps. (The optician who I consulted reassuringly told me that “at my age” this was just to be expected.) I made jokes about needing to wear my glasses on a string around my neck so that they were always available should I need them. But, slave to fashion that I am, I opted in reality for the ‘hipper’ alternative of keeping a spare pair in my handbag so that I could whip them out as and when required.

It’s not just eyes, though. There are other niggling gripes. Sore lower back, on and off. Poor circulation (in the case of another forty something who I know).  Odd aches and pains that come and go. I don’t remember these kinds of things back in my twenties... Neither do my friends who are of a similar age and who are experiencing a similar kind of decline.
I was struck by Penelope Lively’s comment in How it all Began that in old age pain is a "constant companion". So, the slippery slope begins at forty and apparently continues unremittingly into painful old age.

We forty somethings have a lot to look forward to, then!

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